It seems so long ago. Nine years, ten years, a lifetime ago we were enmeshed in (in)fertility treatments. We'd waited so long, too long, not realizing that there was a problem, not realizing that we couldn't have it all.
When all was said and done, we ended up with a real live baby, but the road there? It was rocky. There was a medicated intrauterine insemination. There were three in vitro fertilizations. Laparoscopic surgery. Countless blood draws and many early morning visits with the dildo cam.
We were so happy when the first IVF worked. Big Fat Positive! Happy day! Heartbeat! Joy! Until it wasn't - I went in for blood work and a scan, and - poof! - not there anymore. Early miscarriage, at about seven weeks. I remember standing in my kitchen a few days later, wracked with tears, in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, wrapped in my husband's arms. He and I, we shared that grief. Real palpable gasping-sobs grief, for a baby that wasn't, a miscarriage.
The second IVF ended in a BFN - big fat negative for those of you unversed in the acronyms. My husband was out of town, I'd gone in for blood work in the morning, and then out to Long Island for a funeral. I was heading home from Penn Station, on the cross town bus, when the nurse called with the results. Tears streamed down my face as we bumped along 34th Street. When I got home, I bought a bottle of wine, a piece of cheese, and I had a little pity fest, alone. Can you grieve that, a procedure that didn't work? Most attempts at pregnancy don't work; lots of fertilizations the "normal" way end up in early miscarriage, so early that the woman doesn't even know she was pregnant. So, yes, I was sad that it didn't work, with all those dollars down the tube to boot, but that's not really grief, is it?
And then, the third IVF - the third one was the charm, that real live baby who now knows how to scramble an egg. But, but, but - we had ten embryos, and transferred five, and only one nestled in for keeps. What about the four others transferred? I think of them sometimes, though they have an unreality about them. Did they really exist? I know they did; I have a picture of the five that were transferred. Did the four just slough off, or did the triumphant girl absorb them into herself? Then, there were the five left in the lab. Grief, no grief? Who were they?
My daughter has no siblings. That's another loss right there, another kind of loss, an intangible one, not stemming from a treatment, a pregnancy. Maybe we'd have had a second child if we hadn't waited so long and worked so hard to have the first one. Maybe we'd have had twins if one of the other embryos had stuck it out. Do I miss that? Eight plus years out, I rarely have those pangs of wistfulness. I don't flinch when I hand-me-down her toys and clothes. And, on the bright side, she's afforded us a certain lifestyle - we don't need a big house, we don't need a minivan, we only go through two gallons of milk a week.
But what it comes down to is this: without all that went before, we wouldn't have her, the ferocious and magical girl. If that first miscarriage hadn't been, she wouldn't be. If that BFN hadn't happened, she wouldn't be. But she is. She is.
[Credit Mel, the Stirrup Queen, the community connector, for this ramble. She posted a few weeks ago about loss and grief and infertility and dichotomy.]